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‘Vital pulse check’

Pride and places at stake in Munich derby

There are no points on offer to the winners when Bayern meet TSV 1860 in the 203rd Munich derby on Saturday afternoon, but the value of the bragging rights in the city can never be underestimated. “We’ve yet to beat the Lions at the Allianz Arena, so it’s about time we started,” declared general manager Uli Hoeneß.

The Reds have come off second best to the Blues in the last three prestige friendlies between the sides, with the men from the Säbener Strasse still simmering from the most recent loss, a 3-0 reverse in Giovane Elber’s testimonial eighteen months ago. “Derbies are always important, and we have a score to settle. We know how much it matters to the fans,” declared Philipp Lahm, one of three Munich-born players in the Bayern squad.

Valuable situation report

Lahm is particularly keen to silence the gloating Blues fans among his family and friends, “so we’ll go all-out for a win,” the full-back insisted. “You get a load of stick when you lose,” agreed Bastian Schweinsteiger. Hamit Altintop, approaching his first all-Munich clash, knows a thing or two about derbies after appearing for Schalke against Dortmund: “Afterwards, you want to be able to hold your head up in public."

Bayern will go looking for victory, but not at any price, Willy Sagnol warned. “It’s three days before Wuppertal in the Cup and six days before Rostock in the league. We want to win, but we shouldn’t feel we have to give it 100 percent,” the France star advised. “We’re taking it seriously, but it’s only a warm-up,” chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge agreed.

Lions aiming for glory

The game represented “a vital pulse check,” Hoeneß felt. “The derby is a good warm-up for us, a good test,” offered Oliver Kahn, set for his final appearance against the Blues on Saturday. “The derbies are always fantastic, always dramatic, with countless highlights.“ Unsurprisingly, tempers have frequently boiled over in the past. “It always gets pretty heated out there,” confirmed Schweinsteiger, gearing up for a physical encounter.

However, the TSV 1860 camp is also giving priority firmly to the Cup and league. The Lions visit Aachen on Tuesday before entertaining Augsburg in the second division next Sunday. Despite a number of injury concerns, coach Marco Kurz said his men would “make it as hard as possible for them,” but cautioned his side “to be sensible about what we invest in the game“. General manager Stefan Reuter backed the coach: “We’re taking the derby seriously, but Aachen is what really matters to us."

Reds backing Blues for promotion

Kurz and his FCB counterpart Ottmar Hitzfeld are certain to make a raft of team changes at half-time, and will likely use the match to experiment both in terms of selection and tactics. “There’s no point in only sending out eleven players,” Hitzfeld announced on Thursday. The derby may even provide an ideal showcase for one or two hopefuls to put themselves forward in the battle for places in the team. “The match could be pivotal in deciding who makes the teamsheet for the next few weeks,” Hamit Altintop suggested.

The Bayern camp would be entirely happy if three Bundesliga points were at stake in the next Munich showdown. “It would be great if 1860 were promoted. The atmosphere at the Allianz Arena for a derby which wasn’t a friendly would certainly be fantastic,” Kahn commented. Added Schweinsteiger: “I hope they go up, because we’d like a real derby again soon.“ That would be a match where Bayern would give 100 percent or more in search of victory.